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No Trace; [Private: Shoko]
Topic Started: Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:16 am (72 Views)
Kyveli
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Kyveli couldn't keep Eighth Street Tolthe out of her head, but not for any of the more mundane reasons a person would obsess about someone else. An acquaintance of hers had told her that he was going around with some kind of crystal device in his chest. Kept his heart beating, they said -- no matter what.

It smelled like money. A dirty fistful of paper currency in a city that hated giving it to anyone who didn't already have full coffers.

Her plan started out simple. Almost wishful. Basically, she'd break into his house (located conveniently on the same street as his nickname) and cut him open. Wouldn't need to be delicate, since all she needed was the device. Then she's just clean a bit of blood off of it, take it to an appraiser, and go to a restaurant so nice it'd make her cry a little. And then after that, she'd spend the leftovers on a brand-new Itivari interceptor, complete with deployable wingsails and an engine that was considerably less likely to explode than her current beater.

When she woke up, she realized her fantasies of short-lived wealth were now creeping into her dreams. Kyveli untangled herself from the bedsheets and stepped off her cot. Judging by the light spilling into her closet-sized inn room, she'd slept in -- and not even because she'd done anything fun the night before, either. Even rotgut was far too expensive in the ass-end of this city. That or she was so broke that all she could afford was some trail rations and a place that mostly kept the rain out.

She cleaned herself up and took to the streets, hoping to scout out the eponymous street for potential obstacles that no doubt existed between her and a middling gutter-banger's heart crystal device. On her way there, she stopped at a food cart on the side of the road to pick up a couple roasted lizard and vegetable skewers. Having access to hot food for the first time in days, she quickly devoured her breakfast.

Something else caught her eye while she'd been eating -- another merchant who'd set up shop in this questionable neighborhood. An alchemist. Kyveli kept glancing over to the cart and its owner: a dark elf.

As she polished off her last skewer, an idea came to mind.

It made her so excited that she had to persuade herself it wouldn't work just to calm herself down.

Kyveli sidled over to the cart, shoving her hands in the pockets of her jacket with a slim smile on her face. "Question for you," she said. "Actually, you might get this question a lot around here. Do you sell anything that acts like a powerful dissolver? Like something that can dissolve pretty much anything organic?"

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Shoko
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Shoko knew that her Cascadian trip wouldn't pull her out of the red fairly soon after arriving. There was competition, and the competition had hired reputable protection companies. From Shoko's point of view, they specialized primarily in keeping upstarts away from where they had set up their stock. She found herself harried from district to district until, finally, in this little scum pit she managed to set up her cart. She quickly went to work and mixed up some simple, cheap curatives and found her sales to be steady but not particularly profitable. The price had to be adjusted to the customer. She knew her cures could get twice the price if she was just a little closer to the Black River, and even then she could buy cheaper ingredients and sell the better, more profitable cures. But she needed permission from a market to open up a stall, and she had quickly found most of the markets required membership in the Cascadian Alchemist's Association before she could set up a shop, and that cost notes. A considerable number.

Combative alchemicals, where she was a bit stronger, didn't sell very well at all. Probably because she wasn't able to even produce them, owing to the constant minding from stern-faced company guards. Her back was to some sort of foundry's walls, and she suspected they only permitted her to be there because her number one customers all had the grey jumpsuits on, complaining about strains and burns. She absentmindedly paged through the little tourist book she purchased when she arrived and soaked in the places she'd like to go. A good half of them were on Cascadia Proper, and she didn't have the pass required. She adjusted her flatbrim after a sudden gust forced it and her greatcoat askew. Shoko sighed as she snapped the book shut and totted up her numbers on the abacus again. Just barely enough to pay for food, good water and her nasty room at a cheap inn. Cascadia was not what she had imagined.

A new customer broke her out of her stupor. "Uh, organics? Right." Shoko knelt down and produced a few different powders. "So this one is pretty simple. You take this quicklime and you sprinkle it o-wait, what do you need it for? I can't be a part of certain activities." Her unusual bright blue eyes darted towards the company guards who were loitering near them. "Quicklime is mostly used for, you know, construction. But if you got it on skin or something wet, it reacts, heats and quickly breaks it down. Awful, awful burns. There's more expensive alchemicals I could put together for disposing of organic garbage, of course." She tapped the small vial a few more times as though it was a magic spell to make it sell. "But you'll need more than this. I could get you a good twenty pounds for cheap if you don't mind taking a jaunt with me."
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Kyveli
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Kyveli beamed. "Oh, of course I'm using it for a construction operation! For taking care of some organic garbage." She supposed she was constructing her future fortune and a comfortable airship to live in, and the organic garbage was a second-rate ganger in the outskirts of Cascadia Proper. "See, that was gonna be my next question. I don't exactly... have the funds available to pay right now. But it sounds like you're willing to trade this stuff for some work, so I'm all ears. Lead away."

Shoko winced. "Uh, no money? Really?" She looked side to side. "I don't really need an apprentice, what I really need is money. By jaunt I meant heading over to a supplier to pick some up." She laughed nervously. Money was more important than dignity. "I...guess I could use some help getting a better spot for my cart?"

"Oh! Oh." Kyveli laughed nervously. "I see. But hey, just because I don't have money right now doesn't mean I won't have money soon, right?" She wrapped her arm conspiratorially around Shoko's shoulders, speaking softly with the hope that the company minders wouldn't hear. "We can get you a better spot for you cart, and if you supply me for this job, I'll give you a cut of the profits. A very lucrative job, I'll have you know. It may not be the easiest money, but it'll definitely be money. Just imagine all the food you could eat!"

The laughter transformed into an equally nervous giggle. "I...guess the worst I can get is deported." Or executed, she quickly thought to herself. She shrank beneath the unfamiliar arm around her shoulders. "Uh, I kinda wanted this nice little spot at a corner near Castini Market. It was kind of involved with a gang, I think? A red light district sort of thing?"

Giving the dark elf an amicable pat on the shoulder, Kyveli pulled away. "Not a hard request at all! I have a passing familiarity with the lesser gangs around here, and I can keep my cool when I'm making dealings in those kinds of places, if I do say so myself." She stood up proudly. "When do you want to start?"
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Shoko
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Shoko began putting her little cart together and locked it. "Now, I guess. The guards won't let anyone steal from my cart. I hope." She pushed the tip of her boot against the wheel lock as though such a gesture would stop a thief. She adjusted her stormie and lead Kyveli towards the other district. "Uh, how does one get a gang to give up their street corner?"

"Make it not worth their while anymore!" Kyveli flashed Shoko a cheesy grin and thumbs-up.

The low lying slum gave way to a slightly ritzier, more crowded district with more substantial crowds. The businesses were a conglomeration of taverns, small gambling shops, a few fighting pits and the aforementioned red light district, or more precisely a red light street. Shoko peered down. "They are...awfully normal looking ladies. I kinda thought there'd be more action in their shirts." She blushed slightly. "A-anyways! I want that corner." She pointed at a corner where one very pretty lady was advertising the services of a massage parlor with a less pretty, but well armed, lady standing beside her. "I think that gang is a bit of a big deal though. They own three-ish parlors?"
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Kyveli
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Shoko made a comment about shirt action, and Kyveli spat out a fit of surprised laughter. "No way! Times like these, people would get so offended. 'Dear me! How vulgar!'" She imitated what she hoped was a noblewoman's posture and manner of speaking, hoping to get a titter out of her new partner-in-crime. Kyveli elbowed her to let her know it was all in jest, then strolled up to the street corner she wanted. As a last-minute thought, she turned and said over her shoulder: "I got this! Don't worry."

"Oh, very true. Maybe they keep the women with melons in the back so only the most perverted sorts have to go near them." Shoko responded in similar jest. "Nothing too rash, please!"

"That's the calibre of humor that builds great working relationships!" she shouted over the sounds of the crowd in Shoko's general direction as she left.

Hands in pockets and shoulders relaxed, Kyveli moved across the street and went down a ways on her beeline toward the desired cart location. Once it was clear that she was approaching them, both women looked in her direction. The street worker gave her a winning smile, but Kyveli had her eyes on the guard. She couldn't help but show her teeth. One step closer to tasting seafood for the first time. Or maybe I should stick to something I know? Which restaurant should I go to, anyway? Will they have a dress code? Should I wear a dress or a suit? Will they have butlers?!

Dismissing her thoughts, she raised her hand in a casual sort of wave. "Howdy, ladies!"

The worker was the first to speak up. "Fine day, isn't it? Want to make it even better, gorgeous?"

"Me? Gods no. I got good news and I got bad news for the two of you."

It was amazing how quickly and how visibly their guard went up. Both of them. In the way that the pretty lady in front of her suddenly looked like she could handle herself in a fight, Kyveli realized how stupid her plan really was. Too late to back down.

She opened her arms. "The good news is that you no longer need to stand out in the sweaty crowds all day and night. The bad news is that this corner belongs to me now."

The worker's guard stepped between them, pulling out a metal club. "And who the hell are you?"

"The girl who owns this corner now, obviously."

A look passed between the women as they processed what was going on. It seemed like they were trying to gauge whether this was a joke or not.

"I need this corner clear, if you don't mind."

The club came down so quick that Kyveli nearly would've seen her own brains spilling out over the pavement. Her knife was out in a flash. She feinted low, charging forward into the guard's stance and raking the edge of her knife across the other woman's waist. The guard shuddered, her grip on her club weakening ever so slightly. Kyveli turned around to face her, bloody blade lifted and her smile nowhere near gone--

Until the street worker threw her down to the pavement and started kicking her. Kyveli hollered, curling up and trying her best to scramble away from that bone-breaking club the other one was wielding.
Edited by Kyveli, Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:38 pm.
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Shoko
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It was with an incredible strut that Kyveli made her way to the corner. For a brief moment she thought the woman was probably some sort of silver tongued genius, a master of diplomacy. In the next second, weapons were drawn and Shoko was fishing around in her jacket for the item that would be useful. All she uncovered was the vial of questionably useful sticky stuff. She took almost careful aim and tossed it into the melee after Kyveli was thrown down. It struck the guard. Reflexively she went to clean off her face, but her hand stuck. She lurched backwards and collided with a lamp post, which she stuck to as well.

Shoko drew out a second alchemical orb. "Uh. I've got ones that spray fire too!" The nice lady stepped back and stopped kicking. Shoko wiggled a second bottle of the adhesive threateningly while fishing around for a different concoction entirely. "Please leave more quickly than that, or I'm going to hit you with this nasty little thing." She moved towards Kyveli while wiggling the stick threateningly. The nice lady pried the tough off the lamp and both disappeared down the street. Shoko kneeled down and offered Kyveli a hand. "I don't think I would have been much use in a more direct fight. I don't really know how to use a weapon."

Kyveli swore as she got up, twisting her body and moving around her limbs experimentally to see if anything was broken. Then, grinning at Shoko, she gave the dark elf a sequence of reassuring pats on the back and squeezes of the shoulder. "Are you kidding me?! That was amazing! Who cares if you can't really fight -- all that matters is that worked!"

Shoko nodded nervously. "I guess it worked, huh? Are you...okay?"

"I'm great! Adrenaline's the best! I don't feel anything!" Kyveli stepped back to wiggle her hands. "I'll feel it tomorrow morning. But that's okay, I've been in worse scraps. Hey, now -- you got your corner! Wanna go grab your cart while I man the fort here, or you think I oughta follow you and watch your back?"

"Follow me. Please." Shoko's true motive was that she knew they'd probably be back, and in force. "We need to stick together." She hustled back to get her cart, which was sitting safe and sound where she had left it. The process of pushing it back took longer as the stubborn little thing fought its way over every slightly uneven cobble. The corner was thankfully all theirs, which permitted Shoko to set up shop. She stashed one of her grenades in the bottom, and put out an assortment of reasonably priced fatigue restoratives. "I think this will do pretty well here." It only took a few moments before weary looking patrons leaving the street were purchasing one of her potions and turning straight around. "If only I had my recipe for disease curatives on me!"

When their plan bore fruit, Kyveli whooped and thrust a fist into the air. "Hell yeah! Nice to own our very own piece of real estate. We're like a two-man gang of our own. You're the producer and I'm your muscle. This is pretty fun."

"This is a pretty valuable little corner." Another transaction. Shoko started mixing up new restoratives with her stashed supplies. "I should have been more prepared. Curatives, restoratives and a universal solvent or two wouldn't go amiss."

Kyveli bent over, poking her head into Shoko's view. "Anything I can do to help?"

Shoko shook her head. "I'm not good enough for an apprentice." She took a long look into the vial of reddish fluid she had been working on. "What about...advertising? Getting people's eyes over here?"

"Great idea. This is right up my alley. I used to have to sell my services all the time. I mean, not like that, like I was a trail rat up in the mountains." She pointed to the Dragonspines in the visible distance. "I'll stay close. Holler if you need anything. And if anyone so much as looks at you funny, come grab me."

Shoko watched her start working the crowd and redoubled her efforts to make potions in turn. She wondered about possibly purchasing a fancier outfit for Kyveli but quickly realized it wouldn't make up its cost completely. She sold a few batches to a group of young women. A hand fell on her shoulder. She turned to look at them. "Hey. This is our corner." Her eyes fell on Kyveli as people dressed in poorly-fitted suits began to filter out of the crowd and surround her little cart.

Kyveli re-entered Shoko's view in a stagger, as if she'd just been pushed from somewhere deeper in the crowd. Two knives were out in a flash, one in each hand, both clearly designed for combat. "It ain't," she said loud enough for all of them to hear. "Your girls left of their own accord. They gave it up, you know? Don't you people have better things to do than argue about one stupid street corner?"

Knives and clubs and various weapons came out of coats, sleeves and canes. "You guys, I think I'll just let you have the corner."

"You'll have to pay rent."

Shoko reached into her cart. "Can I pay in alchemicals?" Their heads shook as her hands fell on the grenade she had concealed. With a tap she set the timing mechanism. She closed the door on her cart and locked it, then tossed the grenade into the air. There was an audible ping as her hand left the safety leaver. She grabbed Kyveli's face and jammed it into her chest as a massive flash went off overhead. The street went into instant chaos as several dozen people became blinded. Shoko pushed at her cart and rushed towards the exit to the street and back towards her "home" district. "Let's go, Kyveli! I've got a good chunk of profit from that!"
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Kyveli
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"You wanna go, huh?! I'll have you know that in my fight with your girls earlier I-- mmph!"

Most of Kyveli's vision was darkness, but the corners exploded with the whitest light she'd ever sort of seen. Despite her interrupted words, she broke into a run upon release from the alchemist's grip. The unusual nature of Shoko's solution to the flashbang problem didn't phase Kyveli at all, but the swarm of red-light gangers on their asses sure did. "God of every [removed]ing tree!" Kyveli rushed the cart and helped push, taking one moment to pull her bandana over her nose and mouth. "For the love of-- out of the way, people! I'm not afraid to run y'all over!"

They created a significant disturbance. Innocent Cascadians who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time scattered in their path, some crashing into each other or getting in the way of horse-riders and cart-pullers. Kyveli kept looking over her shoulder, trying to find the pursuing gangers in the wake of the mess they'd created. A few she spotted, heads popping out of the chaos. Muttering an apology to Shoko, she pulled off from helping her at the cart, blade flashing in hand.

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Shoko
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"Tree...gods?" Shoko slowed down her cart pushing as they reached her 'home' district. "Well, that was some excitement, and I've got plenty of jingly bits now." She shook her coin purse. Then she slowed to a stop. "Uh. You want to get the stuff we'll need now or later?"

"Depends on how spunky you're feeling." Kyveli took in a deep breath through her nose and let it out audibly through her mouth. "Personally, I feel refreshed! Nothing like a good chase to get the blood pumping! Also, I cut a few of them."

"Uh, a little spunky? Just a bit. I'm not too good at self defense, mind you. I've only got my grenades. I mean, I've got some knives that Dad gave me for my own protection but I don't know how to use them!" Shoko chuckled to fill the empty air. A squad of Cascadian Marines passed by turning on the magelights that had failed to turn on by themselves. "Getting dark, huh. I doubt we could get what I'm thinking of tonight, construction is a bit of a daytime business."

Kyveli lit up as the magelights around them did the same. Within moments she was in Shoko's face, grabbing her shoulders and speaking with utter excitement, as if the words pouring out of her mouth were the last she'd ever say. "Knives? You have some? Knives are the best self-defense weapon a woman could ever want! They're inherently terrifying! Much more terrifying than some piddly bow and arrow! Knives end fights quickly!"

Shoko leaned back reflexively. She pulled out a pair of unblemished, untouched daggers with League stamps on them and the strange blue leather on the grip. "Yeah." Her voice fell as she spoke. "Are they that scary?" She concealed the knives again in her handy little sleeve holsters.

"Hey there--" Kyveli made grabby hand gestures toward the knives. "Hold up. Let me see those." When given one of the knives to examine more closely, Kyveli's grin grew even wider. "Nice. You might wanna scratch off the League wheels, though. They scare the crap outta me. Eyes everywhere. Don't want em thinking you did something you didn't."

Shoko shook her head. "I'm a citizen and I've got my spare citizenry chit on me. No worries here! Mostly worried about someone stealing them off me, but I've got so many random bits beneath this coat they'd be hard pressed to grab an actual valuable." Shoko grinned.

A fire lit behind the other woman's eyes. "Anyone tries to slip fingers under your coat, you kick them until they stop twitching. Seriously. Then again, I guess they'd go for your stuff if you're ever not wearing your coat. So clearly you should never bathe or take any strange people home with you."

"Uh, what does bathing have to do with anything? I mean, I had one last night..."

"That's the most important thing you got out of that? Not the part about kicking people to death? Girl, I got serious things I oughta teach you about living on the edge of society. So wait, you came from the Ivory League? Or what?"

"I'd rather not kick anyone to death if I could help it, sounds...taxing. Yes, I'm from the League. I'm an alchemist there, too. I mean I really grew up in the caverns below, but that's all behind me."

"Is it true that the government secretly scries on every single household? And that citizens are required to worship Letty Amara?"

"Not more than any other nation. Just because our spy organization is well known doesn't mean they spy on us. I've never worshiped Amara before, but I saw her once while eating at a restaurant with my parents. She's kinda..." Shoko blushed. "Well, she's stately."

Clearly picking up on the cue, Kyveli hooded her eyes and elbowed the side of Shoko's big coat, grinning mischievously. "Stately, huh? Always nice to have someone in office with a great-- personality!" She chuckled, pulled off to give her new alchemist co-conspirator some space, and waved to let herself move on from all that ridiculousness. "Sounds like you're money if you were at a restaurant with the Prime Minister. Maybe ex-money. I won't pry, though. You need me to walk you back to wherever you're staying? I'm down at that dump inn on the cliff face over there. You'd be shocked how many spiders can fit into a sleeping area the size of a closet."

Shoko's blush intensified. "I...I mean yes, she's...but I felt more in the air around her. Calm authority! It was kinda...different. I'm not money, though. It was the first Nalaian place in town that serves raw fish, so my parents took me for my birthday. It was pretty good." Her desperate explanation now complete, she shook her head at Kyveli. "Uh, my room has space for two. Sounds a lot nicer than yours." She giggled suddenly. "Maybe a steady job to earn you a bit of coin is better than a knife at keeping you safe?"

"Did you say raw Nalaian fish?!" Kyveli turned suddenly toward Shoko again, but didn't get in her face this time. "Can we please be friends? That's literally one of the reasons why I need money! There's this restaurant in town I want so badly to go to! Other uses for the money, obviously, but I already decided it's the first thing I'll do is eat there."

"Uh, sure, I could use a friend." She had none. "Um, want to stay at my inn with me? Friends do that, right?"

"Stay in a place, without spiders, for free, nothing weird attached? You're practically my hero."

"Yeah, I guess that's better than spiders? I did make a bunch of money today so might as well help you. Do we need anything from your room at your other place?"

The human pointed. "I'll grab my stuff. It's just down this road over here. Won't be long."

Shoko followed after her and let her put her stuff on top of the cart. She pushed it all the way to the other inn, which was sitting on one of the small streams that came tumbling down the mountains. "It was supposed to be a nice place to stay for people looking at their foundries, but a few of the foundries closed so they aren't too busy. Rooms are sort of cheap, though!" Shoko nodded to the private security as she pushed her cart through and lead Kyveli through the inside. One of the ladies behind the counter visibly sniffed as the pair passed by. Shoko lead her down the hall and into a small room with all the amenities. A small bathing area, a nice bed big enough for two people, and a large window. A pair of chairs were shoved together leaving just enough space for Shoko to leave the cart. "I've got some food, too." She pulled out a crusty long bread and a small case of pink smoked fish.
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